Many people plan their estates diligently, with input from legal, tax, and financial professionals. Others plan earnestly but make mistakes that can potentially affect both the transfer and destiny of family wealth. Here are some common and not-so-common errors to avoid.
While you could write your own will or create a will, it can be risky to do so. Sometimes simplicity has a price. Look at the example of Aretha Franklin. The “Queen of Soul’s” estate, valued at $80 million, may be divided under a handwritten or “holographic” will. Her wills were discovered among her personal effects. Assuming that the will is authentic, it will be probated under Michigan law, but such unwitnessed documents are not necessarily legally binding.
Relatively few estate plans are reviewed over time. Any major life event should prompt you to review your will, trust, or other estate planning documents. So should a major life event that affects one of your beneficiaries.
Trust administration is not for everyone. Some people lack the interest, the time, or the understanding it requires, and others balk at the responsibility and potential liability. A co-trustee also introduces the potential for conflict.
While you may not want to explicitly reveal who will get what prior to your passing, your heirs should understand the purpose and intentions at the heart of your estate planning. If you want to distribute more of your wealth to one child than another, write a letter to be presented after your death that explains your reasoning. Make a list of which heirs will receive collectibles or heirlooms. If your family has some issues, this may go a long way toward reducing squabbles as well as the possibility of legal costs eating up some of this-or-that heir’s inheritance.
Through a simple, one-sentence title change, a married couple can fund a revocable trust with their primary residence. As an example, if a couple retitles their home from “Heather and Michael Smith, Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship” to “Heather and Michael Smith, Trustees of the Smith Revocable Trust dated (month)(day), (year).” They are free to retitle myriad other assets in the trust’s name.
Very few people consider this possibility when creating a will or trust, but it does happen. A caregiver harboring a hidden agenda may exploit a loved one to the point where they revise estate planning documents for the caregiver’s financial benefit.
The best estate plans are clear in their language, clear in their intentions, and updated as life events demand. They are overseen through the years with care and scrutiny, reflecting the magnitude of the transfer of significant wealth.
The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act is now law. With it, comes some of the biggest changes to retirement savings law in recent years. While the new rules don’t appear to amount to a massive upheaval, the SECURE Act will require a change in strategy for many Americans. For others, it … Continue reading “The Secure Act”
For most, creating an estate strategy is important to make sure your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. But it may be just as important to have an estate strategy for your business. Whether you’re a sole proprietor who will be passing on your business to your heirs or your business partners … Continue reading “Buy Sell Agreements for Businesses”
Financially, many of us associate April with taxes – but we should also associate April with important IRA deadlines. April 1, 2020 is the deadline to take your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from certain individual retirement accounts. April 15, 2020 is the deadline for making annual contributions to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and certain … Continue reading “2019 IRA Deadlines Are Approaching”
You may have seen this statistic before or one resembling it: the average 65-year-old retiring couple can now expect to pay more than $250,000 in healthcare costs during the rest of their lives. In fact, Fidelity Investments now projects this cost at $285,000. The effort to prepare for these potential expenses is changing the … Continue reading “Healthcare Costs are Cutting into Retirement Preparations”
If you ever have the inkling to manage your investments on your own, that inkling is worth reconsidering. Do-it-yourself investment management can be a bad idea for the retail investor for myriad reasons. Getting caught up in the moment.When you are watching your investments day to day, you can lose a sense of historical perspective. … Continue reading “Why DIY Investment Management Is Such a Risk”
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